Coulthard Irvine Speedy In Spain
April 27, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Eddie Irvine, who has made more headlines this year with complaints than accolades, was second fastest, touring the 2.939-mile course in 1 minute, 20.615 seconds. His time was nearly a half second behind Coulthard.
However, even the outspoken Irishman is certain his time won’t stick when qualifying rolls around Saturday.
"I wouldn't want anybody to read too much into our times today, but things have certainly improved on an operational level," he said. "I am working well with Pedro (de la Rosa), but it is too early to comment on his performance."
De la Rosa, Irvine’s Jaguar Racing teammate, was seventh fastest, but Irvine said the key to Jaguar’s performance Friday was the team’s adjustment to traction control.
"I know that many people suffered at the hands of traction control today, but we had no problems," Irvine said. "It seems to be working well for us, but it will be interesting to see now it manifests itself over a race distance."
Rubens Barrichello was third fastest, followed by BAR driver Olivier Panis and Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.
Mika Hakkinen, who has won the past three Spanish Grands Prix, was sixth fastest.
"We went through a good program today," said Hakkinen, who was complaining of understeer in his first practice session. "The new electronic aids give you a lot of opportunities and present the engineers and drivers with a different challenge. We will look at the data overnight and make some further improvements."
Williams drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya were eighth and 13th fastest, respectively.
"It has been a very difficult day as I have been struggling with the set-up a lot," Montoya said. "I can't really get a handle on the car. Apart from that everything is working fine. I missed half the last session with a problem. We must study the data and improve for tomorrow."
Luciano Burti, who makes his debut with Prost Grand Prix this weekend, was 21st fastest.
"As today was my real first day in the car, I focused on getting familiar with it," Burti said. "I still have to get used at not having the power-assisted steering which makes it quite difficult for me in the fast corners. We managed to do some setup work and, although this afternoon's session didn't improve my position, we know in which direction we have to work for tomorrow's qualifying."